Representation Learning for Electronic Health Records

19 Sep 2019  ·  Wei-Hung Weng, Peter Szolovits ·

Information in electronic health records (EHR), such as clinical narratives, examination reports, lab measurements, demographics, and other patient encounter entries, can be transformed into appropriate data representations that can be used for downstream clinical machine learning tasks using representation learning. Learning better representations is critical to improve the performance of downstream tasks. Due to the advances in machine learning, we now can learn better and meaningful representations from EHR through disentangling the underlying factors inside data and distilling large amounts of information and knowledge from heterogeneous EHR sources. In this chapter, we first introduce the background of learning representations and reasons why we need good EHR representations in machine learning for medicine and healthcare in Section 1. Next, we explain the commonly-used machine learning and evaluation methods for representation learning using a deep learning approach in Section 2. Following that, we review recent related studies of learning patient state representation from EHR for clinical machine learning tasks in Section 3. Finally, in Section 4 we discuss more techniques, studies, and challenges for learning natural language representations when free texts, such as clinical notes, examination reports, or biomedical literature are used. We also discuss challenges and opportunities in these rapidly growing research fields.

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